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Thread: Buggy Report Writer

  1. #1
    BRANDI MARQUINA
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    Default Buggy Report Writer

    When using the report writer for creating and editing some fairly complex reports, I am having issues. This has been a steady problem.

    Every time I make an edit or resize a field my ability to continue editing the report becomes hindered. After doing a few actions, the report writer will just stop working. It won't let me move anything around, or resize anything, or copy and paste. Sometimes when I save it will fix it for a few minutes, but then it will just happen again. My report design goes as follows:

    Add a field
    Change the font and border
    Change the color
    Copy it and paste it wait a few seconds
    click on it and try to move it
    crap it won't move...ahh fresh save, it moves
    move the field, copy and paste
    it won't paste...save the report
    copy and paste, it won't paste
    exit the report and go back in

    Every 5 minutes or so I am having to exit and go back in. This usually only happens on reports that have at least one or two subreports, and I don't necessarily have to be editing the subreport for it to happen.

    Anyone else having an issue?

    Brandi

  2. #2
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    Brandi,

    Do you see the same thing on other computers in your 'shop'?

    Do you think to check the available Windows resources when these problems occur?

    I'm wondering if maybe there's a resources issue, or possibly a video display driver issue, that's unique to your setup.

    -- tom

  3. #3
    Former Alpha Employee JerryBrightbill's Avatar
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    If you haven't compacted lately, that would be a good place to start. Typically, problems like you are having are resource related as Tom suggests.

    Jerry

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    Volunteer Moderator Peter.Greulich's Avatar
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    Yeah, I have similar problems. I think it is a little buggy. Although my experience is not quite as extreme as yours seems to be. Nonetheless when I can no longer control an object I close the report and go back in to it again. Sometimes you have to close Alpha if it gets really wierd. I hope this is addressed in v6.

  5. #5
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    Peter, I have those problems, too. The form editor will eventually get messed up, too, if you stay in it long enough. I have got used to it, and just close the report, and then reopen it. I "think" it may have to do with the editors having been rewritten in xdialog, xbasic, etc.

    I have the same behavior on all of several computers.

    I haven't bothered to link the editor getting messed up to any specific series of event - I just close and reopen. Occassionally, I may even have to close the app and reopen it.

  6. #6
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    I have found similar problems most usually in regard to calculated fields. If I have the calculated field window open and create several calculations, then close it, I can't reopen it right away. If I save the report, I can them repoen the calculated fields window. Occasionally I have objects that can't be moved.

    Jim

  7. #7
    Volunteer Moderator Peter.Greulich's Avatar
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    Martin & Jim, Thanks for the confirmation. I'm glad it's not just me. Another irritant is when editing embedded browses in forms, generally I can't control the column properties (font size, etc.) w/o right-clicking on the column directly and selecting properties. In otherwords, if you select the column and then click the toolbar text icon to do someting, nothing happens.

    Peter

  8. #8
    BRANDI MARQUINA
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    Sorry it took me so long to respond...I forgot to check the box to have the thread email me.

    Anyway, yes the same issue occurs on four different computers. An NT workstation, two xp workstations, and a windows 98 workstation.

    I do not believe that the occurence is unique.

    Thanks,

    Brandi

  9. #9
    BRANDI MARQUINA
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    I usually make it a habit to compact the databases that I am working on once or twice a week. So, I don't see that as an issue but I will try. I also keep my indexes, and deleted records very clean as I am sure to maintanence them any time I make a change or a deletion.

    Thanks,

    Brandi

  10. #10
    BRANDI MARQUINA
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    I hope it gets addressed in V5 since we will be changing platforms as our next step. :-)

    Thanks,

    Brandi

  11. #11
    BRANDI MARQUINA
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    I sometimes have to do that too. But I haven't noticed the issue on the form editor, but that doesn't mean it isn't there. Most if not all of the forms in our applications are static. Usually we just customize reports for clients.

    But very interesting none the less.

    Thanks,

    B

  12. #12
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    Brandi,

    I follow a different sequence without incident.

    Copy field object.
    Paste it
    Paste it
    Paste it
    Paste it
    Move each to new position
    Save layout
    Modify properties of each new field object to suit.

    -- tom

  13. #13
    BRANDI MARQUINA
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    Tom,

    In advance, let me appologize for my frustration, it isn't directed towards you:

    To be completely honest, for the past 4 months or so, I have been having this issue. I am pretty sure that it isn't a sequence of events problem, since over the course of time, I am sure I have done just about every sequence imaginable. It doesn't seem that any amount of resequencing or saving works. And it isn't just on one report that it happens. It used to only occur with reports that have lots of calculated fields or at least one subreport, but now it seems to happen all the time, no matter what the complexity of the report. I can be just printing like 5 fields from a table with no filter, no order, no calculations, and it will do it.

    The sequence I gave was just an example and not intended to be my exact sequence every time I am designing a report. I have since made it a habit to save after every single action that I do, but to no avail, I still inevitably have to close the report every few actions, and then open it back up. This was not an issue in version 4.5. What would really be cool is if that report writer was to be reintegrated. I don't really see much of a difference in the two other than one worked ok, and the other ticks me off consistently. :-)

    It isn't necessarily always when I am just copying and pasting a field. It can be opening and closing a subreport, or changing the calculations in the calculated field rules when the box won't open, or changing the properties of a field...I can't really pinpoint it to just one thing that I am doing, or just one sequence. Believe me I have tried. If there was anything I could do to avoid it, I certainly would jump on it. Great ideas though...I guess we just have to keep searching.

    Thanks,

    Brandi

    PS...Does anyone know if Selwyn and Richard and the crew have investigated this at all?

  14. #14
    "Certified" Alphaholic
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    Brandi,

    Vers 5 requires a lot more horsepower (Windows Resources) than did Vers 4. I don't know if that's a factor in your situation or not, but it might be that your machine is now underpowered vis-a-vis Vers 5.

    -- tom

  15. #15
    BRANDI MARQUINA
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    My old machine was, that is why I had to get a new one. Alpha5 wouldn't even open on the old one. But maybe I can use that on my boss, and have him buy me another new one. Do you think that will work??? HEHE

  16. #16
    "Certified" Alphaholic DaveM's Avatar
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    I use an old slow machine as well as very fast ones. I rarely have a problem. I also have very little elsy running while doing reports and forms. Not even a screen saver.

    I have experienced some slow downs though.

    Dave

  17. #17
    Member Mike Konoff's Avatar
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    I can too report that when designing forms/reports that the design screen begins to behave "funny" after in design mode for some time. When I notice I typically save the form/report, shutdown A5, and then restart. Things again work fine for a while, then it seems like it starts to happen again. Repeat the process and it goes away, only to come back after time. It used to be that I'd only notice the menus would not repaint. Now I also am beginning to notice that when I click on a field object and try moving it with the arrow or dudge with shift-arrow, nothing happens. Save, close A5, and reopen A5 - and they work for a while. Using Win98SE, PIII 800 MHZ. Seems to be same issue at home on WinME PC.

    Mike

  18. #18
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    I don't think it the OS - its the editor. My advice is to immediately close and reopen at the first sign on "wierdness." Otherwise you can lose a big chunck of the report.

  19. #19
    BRANDI MARQUINA
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    I would think since so many people are having issues that maybe alpha software would reinvestigate. It really cuts into my work time I know, I don't know about anyone else.

    Brandi

  20. #20
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    Brandi,

    What's needed is a repeatable sequence. Step by Step. Mouse click by mouse click. Leading to a crash or 'odd' behavior. Until someone can produce this it's unlikely (in my opinion) that Alpha will spend time on it.

    -- tom

  21. #21
    BRANDI MARQUINA
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    I wish I had the time to volunteer for that position, but I am here complaining about how this is a time absorber...so unfortunately I don't (maybe if they paid my salary, I could search down their bugs, you know :-) but the big bosses, my clients want to know why I can't deliver this report).

    It seems to me, if they see several people having the same issue, they just might take a look. It kinda goes back to what I said before which was that there isn't a certain combination of key strokes or events that occur, it is random and looks to me to be similar to a memory leak. But I don't think I am going to get a resolution here. Thanks to everyone for your input, I appreciate you taking your time.

    If anyone thinks a new thread with a poll of how many are having issues would be a good thing, let me know, and I will start one.

    Thanks,

    Brandi

  22. #22
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    Tom,

    I do not think it is the kind of thing that you can or even need to say, "It's x,y, then z and bang h happens." The problems I have don't follow any kind of pattern like that and they can usually be cleared by exiting the report design and then coming raight back in. It seems like a resource issue of some sort, but it quite simply is not a matter of my high powered machine not being high powered enough.

    My most frequent issue is that after a bit of editing one cannot move an object with the arrow keys, which is sometimes (especially Shift+arrow) far superior to dragging with the mouse. For me the problems are just irritations, not show stoppers, and Alpha isn't much interested in fixing mere irritations, at least not in v5, or at least not right now.

    Ray Lyons

  23. #23
    Former Alpha Employee JerryBrightbill's Avatar
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    Ray

    I think you framed the issue very well as a resource issue and more of an irritant than a real defect. I have similar problems with a number of programs and a some are much worse than Alpha, which leads me to believe that Windows, even in the latest versions, doesn't always handle resources as well as it should. Win98 and WinME were particularly problematic and when I used them continuously in a work computer, I had to reboot at least once a day to clear memory issues.

    I do a lot of graphics work and suspect many problems are related to video problems as much as anything. Different computers with different video cards show significant differences in behavior. I found, as have others, the best solution in all Windows programs is save your work frequently, close and reopen programs periodically, and keep backups. In A5, I also get out of layout editors from time to time and compact quite often. I had some problems in the past, but not since I started using that approach and moved to Win2000 and WinXP.

    I don't consider this an Alpha issue, but more of the consequence of pushing a system to the limits. When I see how many different files are open in a typical functioning system, I am surprised we don't see more clashes.

    Jerry

  24. #24
    Volunteer Moderator Peter.Greulich's Avatar
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    Brandi,

    As you know and have well described, it's a bug and should be addressd - period. It is not an OS or machine issue.

    Peter

  25. #25
    BRANDI MARQUINA
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    Thank you! Finally someone agrees with me.

    I appreciate the feedback.

    Brandi

  26. #26
    BRANDI MARQUINA
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    I believe it is a defect if it impairs my work.

    If you were driving down the street, and your car ran out of steam every two-five minutes and you had to turn it off, and then turn it back on so that it would start rolling forward again, would you consider that a defect?

    B

  27. #27
    Former Alpha Employee JerryBrightbill's Avatar
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    With that analogy, Microsoft Windows is a disaster. Some time ago, Microsoft regularly suggested rebooting at least once a day to clean up memory problems. A car that crashs twice a day unless you shut it off and restart it would certainly be defective. But we seem to consider that acceptable in computers. No wonder Linux is getting a toe hold.

    While I agree that the apparent lockup is a problem, it is not restricted to Alpha. I have seen the same behavior in many programs. Some are much worse. Any operation that puts a lot of data into memory has the potential for memory issues. Saving and clearing the memory will usually clear up the issue. How many people can you put in your car until someone has to get out or the car is overloaded? That is a better analogy on the memory issue.

    Jerry

  28. #28
    BRANDI MARQUINA
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    I don't see the same behavior in other programs. My development activities span across several development platforms and developer studio products, as well as just huge aps, including Delphi 7 and 8, Visual Studio, Visual Studio .NET, Microsoft Visio, and ALPHA 5 v4.5, (not to mention rpg games) and none of these memory hogs causes me the same issue as alpha 5.

    And if you will go back and read the thread completely you will notice I said that if I open Alpha 5 for the first time, and begin working in the report writer, within 2 to 5 minutes it breaks down AGAIN. This can even be after a complete reboot of my system, so I am not going to let everyone COP out this issue as a Windows problem. I would believe it if it didn't happen on several computers with several different windows platforms, some of which are very powerful machines.

    Now don't get me wrong, I am not sticking up for Windows, I am right in line with everyone else telling you that Windows is a piece of crap, but that is NOT the issue here. Even running memory and cache management software I have the same problem. I don't have issues with other programs crashing. Just Alpha 5.

    Lets try this analogy. Get a new pen, write three words, run out of ink, replace the ink cartridge, write three words, run out of ink replace the ink cartridge.

    Gets to be rather expensive. Just like my time.

    B

  29. #29
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    Brandi,

    ""Every time I make an edit or resize a field my ability to continue editing the report becomes hindered. After doing a few actions, the report writer will just stop working. It won't let me move anything around, or resize anything, or copy and paste.""

    Same here. I have several complex (lots of fields) and I have run into the same exact problems. I always compact after I make several revisions, and before going on to do anything else. In the report writer, when things quit working, I usually close Alpha5 and restart. Up until now I guess I just considered it a "quirk" and worked around it.

    I have found if you continue to "force" things in the report writer, it will corrupt something. That "something" will not always be obvious until you go to print 1500 pages (in groups of 25) on a tight deadline.

    In my opinion, I think Alpha5 still has some memory leaks here and there. Why? Start Alpha5, take note (in XP do a ctrl/alt/del) in the task manager of the size memory requirement. Now use the program and open, close a few forms etc. Look again at the amount of memory. Now design, or use an app all day, and look at what it is using for memory.

    I have had my app open lately doing a lot of printing. One report based on one query returning about 900 records. The memory use has climbed to about 162meg. I think this can and does cause problems with average machines. I have 1 gig of memory and there is no reason that one program should continue to grab memory and not release it.
    Even If I'm just entering records and doing nothing else, memory usage climbs throughout the day until various aspects of the program start to act up.

    I don't mean to hack anyone off, I think alpha5 is a good program and will continue to use it. I think things are still a little rough around the edges.

    Phil

  30. #30
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    Default RE: Buggy Report Writer

    Phil,

    what you're describing illustrates what I was trying to tell Brandi earlier in this thread. If you have a complex report and you can cause unexplained behavior (or memory usage) by following a specific sequence I think it would be helpful if it could be sent forward to Alpha so they can see it too. -- tom

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